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Sauerland cell trial

August 19, 2009

One of the men accused of planning attacks on US military bases in Germany in 2007 told a Dusseldorf court Wednesday that the armed fight against German soldiers in Afghanistan was a "duty."

Adem Yilmaz
Yilmaz told the court that Allah had given him the right to fightImage: AP

Adem Yilmaz, part of a group of suspected militant Islamists arrested in Germany's Sauerland region in September 2007, told the court in one of Germany's largest terrorism trials since the 1970s that it didn't matter to him whether the soldiers were American, German or Turkish.

"For me they are all the same," said Yilmaz, who is himself Turkish. "Allah gave us the right to fight against those people who are fighting us," he said, adding that many Muslims had been attacked in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yilmaz also said he stood by an earlier statement that he wanted to kill as many non-believers as possible.

Asked whether he would return to fighting armed jihad - holy war - after serving his sentence, the 30-year-old said, "I don't know yet."

Yilmaz belongs to the so-called Sauerland Group, together with fellow defendants Fritz Gelowicz, Daniel Schneider and Attila Selek.

Yilmaz arrived in Germany in 1986 and said he decided to join the armed "holy war" in 2004. His initial target had been Iraq. He added that the Americans were the "head of the team" fighting Islam.

Daniel Schneider in the courtroom
Daniel Schneider is distancing himself from the idea of a holy warImage: AP

Yilmaz was the second member of the group, arrested after intense police surveillance, to make an extensive confession. In return he's likely to be given a reduced sentence.

The case is expected to yield unprecedented details of militant Islamist training and recruitment methods in Pakistan.

Co-defendent Schneider also testified on Wednesday, when he sought to distance himself from the group’s activities, labelling jihad as senseless.

"I would no longer choose to move towards jihad," the 23-year-old said, adding that he doubted that jihadist attacks served any purpose given the strength of Western forces, which he said were aligned against Islam.


Editor: Susan Houlton